Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Main performance hall at Chief Sealth High School
For the third consecutive Tuesday in a now I was back in the main performance hall at Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle. My current reed allowed for a very precise attack, particularly with a hard, swiping action, and I decided to center today's improvisation around this technique and use the reverent hall to accentuate it. I would flood the horn with air, and at virtually the same moment gently squeeze in my embouchure and smudge out the air flow with a quick application of my tongue. This is similar to placing your hand over a vacuum cleaner hose and then pull it immediately away. The pressure pulls my tongue in and then I almost have to force it away. This is done very rapidly, and works the best when playing a single fingering, and at the moment the tongue touches the reed I move to an alternate fingering or unrelated pitch. The end result is a push and pull effect that almost sounds like a series of pitches played in reverse.
During this improvisation I found that the room was the most responsive when moving between a traditional fingering into a two-toned cluster fingering. However I would only let one of the tones in the cluster speak at a time. Because the clusters can either hold two pitches at once or allow for isolation on either note, the motion of swiping the reed seems to pull the sound down or up towards the final pitch in an extremely fast bend. This is a technique I've worked with extensively over the past two years. Ab Concert was an absolute center of action during this piece. I mainly pivoted around this pitch and focused heavily on it while playing. The finger action used to accentuate this Ab was as follows:
Initial attack: (Left Hand) 1-2, Octave, Low Bb. Articulate this pitch with the tongue in a legato style.
Final attack: (Left Hand) 1-2, Octave, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2, Low Eb key. Finger this at the moment the tongue is Applied. Then immediately pull away the tongue.
The image "Self Portrait" accompanying today's post by Horst Janssen.